Stanley Cavell: A Retrospective

Vita-Salute San Raffaele University of Milan

Palazzo Arese-Borromeo (Cesano Maderno)

September 23th - 24th


Raffaele Ariano (Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele di Milano), Paolo Babbiotti (Università di Torino)

CONFERENCE PROGRAM (for the call for papers see below)





Opening remarks

10.00 -11.00 Keynote address

Stephen Mulhall (University of Oxford):

Scepticism and Modernism, Philosophy and Literature

11.00 - 11.15

Coffee break


11.15 - 12.30

ROOM 6: Improvisation and Performance

Davide Sparti (Università di Siena): Projective Imagination. Cavell and the Improvisatory Dimension of Language

David Sebastiani (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa): Release Formulae: Improvisation and the Dream of Spontaneity

David Rudrum (University of Huddersfield): Stanley Cavell and Performance Philosophy

ROOM 7: Literature and Scepticism

Lyra Koli (University of Pardubice): Stanley Cavell's Untouchable Othello: Scepticism and Suspension of Disbelief

Marco Marchesin (University of East Anglia): 'A Gap between Intention and Execution': A Cavellian Reading of Kafka's Castle

Paul Jenner (University of Loughborough): TBA

Lunch break: 12.30-14.00


ROOM 6: Cinema

Catherine Wheatley (King's College): Coming to Wonder: Stanley Cavell and Film's Renewal of Vision

Emiliano Morreale (La Sapienza di Roma)/ Simona Busni (Università della Calabria): Stanley Cavell, Philosopher of Melodrama

Temenuga Trifonova (York University in Toronto): The 'Ordinary' in Cavell

ROOM 7: Ethics and Politics

Luigi Corrias (VU University Amsterdam): Acknowledgement after Dehumanization: Cavell and an Ethos of Reconciliation

Vasso Kindi (National & Kapodistrian University of Athens): Human Voice and Rules in Cavell and Rawls

Timur Uçan (Bordeaux Montaigne University): TBA

Baptiste Cornardeau (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne): The Limits of Practice. Stanley Cavell, Pragmatism, and the Value of Action

15.45-16-00: Coffee break


ROOM 6: Forms of Life

Viktor Johannson (Södertörn University Stockholm): An Exercise in Sámi Philosophising: Indigeneity, the Young Child, and an Ethics of Cultural Translation

Franco La Cecla (NABA): The influence of Cavell on Anthropology, with Special Reference to Veena Das

Niklas Forsberg (University of Pardubice): Two Historical Periods Within One Human Breast

Andrea di Gesù (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa/ Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne): Cavell, Wittgenstein and the Possibility of an Ecological Biopolitics

ROOM 7: Finitude

Francesco Gandellini (University of Southampton): Between Transcendental and Grammatical. Cavell Reader of Kant

Rico Gutschmidt (University of Konstanz): Cavell and Theology. Skepticism and the Sinfulness of the Human Condition

Pioter Shmugliakov (Freie Universität Berlin): Cavell and Evental Thought

Filippo Casati (Lehigh University): A Cavellian Solution to a Heideggerian Problem




9.30-10.30 Keynote address

Sandra Laugier (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne):

Reinventing Ordinary Language Philosophy


Coffee break


10.45 - 12.30

ROOM 6: Criticism, Literary Theory, and the Novel

Rachel Malkin (University of Oxford): Stanley Cavell's Critical Afterlives

Athanassia "Nassia" Williamson (New York University): Skepticism and the Novel: A Dialogue

Christopher Fenwick (Freie Universität Berlin): Stanley Cavell and Ethical Criticism

Yo-ran Yang (Georgetown University): Confronting Loneliness: Reading Therapeutically with Cavell, Whit​​man, and Wallace

ROOM 7: Language and the Ordinary

Lisa McKeown (New School for Social Research): Acknowledging Passionate Utterances

Philip Mills (University of Lausanne): Poetic Perlocutions: Poetry after Cavell after Austin

Francesco Pesci (University of Illinois at Chicago): Cavell on the Distinctiveness of Moral Language

12:30-14.00: Lunch break


ROOM 6: Morality and Perfectionism

Piergiorgio Donatelli (Università degli Studi "La Sapienza" di Roma): TBA

Matteo Falomi (University of Essex): The Paradox of Reading

Léa Boman (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Université): Emerson's Claim for Inconsistency: Moral Perfectionism and Rationality in Cavell's Philosophy"

Sasha Blickhan (Munich School of Philosophy): Taking Ethics Personally: Perspectival Virtue Ethics

ROOM 7: Cinema: Reprise

Domenico Spinosa (Università degli Studi dell'Aquila): Not only Wittgenstein and Thoreau. About some philosophical and literary refractions in The World Viewed

Michael Raeber (UCLA/ University of Zurich): Democratic Visibility: The import of Cavell's aesthetics of film to a political philosophy of democratic visibility

Michelle Devereaux (University of Warwick), Orders from an Unborn Baby: Maternal Scepticism, Vengeance and Voicelessness in Alice Lowe's Prevenge

15.45-16.00: Coffee break


ROOM 6: Aesthetic Judgment and Criticism

Zed Adams (New School for Social Research)/ Nat Hansen (University of Reading): The Hope of Agreement: Cavell on Aesthetic Judgment

Andrea Maistrello (University of Padua / Free researcher): Ordinary vs Commonplace: Cavell and Danto on Everydayness and Art

IIngeborg Löfgren (Uppsala University): Truth in Skepticism and the Truth in Formalism: Stanley Cavell, Cleanth Brooks, and the Acknowledgment of Interpretative Vulnerability

ROOM 7: Panel moderated by Ricardo Miguel-Alfonso

Richard Eldridge (Swarthmore College): Cavell and the Achievement of Selfhood

David LaRocca: Reflexiveness and Self-Reflection in Cavell's Memoir

Garry L. Hagberg (Bard College): Stanley Cavell, the Language of Selfhood, and his Writings on Henry James

Ricardo Miguel-Alfonso (Università Castilla-La Mancha): What's the Use of Calling Cavell an Emersonian?

Call for papers:


Two years have passed since his death, and Stanley Cavell's figure keeps growing in stature for philosophy, the humanities and the humanistic social sciences of our time. Courses and conferences devoted to his work have been and are being held regularly in universities all over the globe, while the amount of scholarly work on him shows no sign of diminishing. It is not only that few recent thinkers can count within their oeuvre masterworks of the importance of The Claim of Reason and The World Viewed. It is not even just the breadth of his research interests - encompassing topics as varied as Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Shakespeare, film, democracy, education and literature, to name just a few - that makes Cavell's production so significant. It is his capacity to delve deeply into the technical debates of academic philosophy and humanities whilst, at the same time, attaining a truly distinctive voice. His prominence is due not only to his work as a scholar, but also as a writer and intellectual. For such reasons, Cavell invites us to problematize and reinvent philosophy in a manner important to our academic institutions as well as our society at large.

Vita-Salute San Raffaele University of Milan, in partnership with the art and design museum Triennale di Milano, will host a two-day interdisciplinary international conference on Cavell's philosophy and figure. The call for papers encourages a variety of approaches and contributions, addressing scholars in the fields of history of philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, political theory and philosophy of language, as well as those working in film studies, comparative literature, North American studies, gender studies, visual and cultural studies, intellectual history and history of ideas. The aim of the conference will be not only to deepen the present understanding of Cavell's thought through the analysis and interpretation of specific aspects of his production, but also to open new lines of interaction with other thinkers and topics both within and beyond the academic study of philosophy.

The conference will be structured around thematic sessions.

Topics of interest for submission include, but are not limited to:

  1. America and transcendentalism: Emerson, Thoreau and beyond.
  2. Inheriting a method? Cavell's Austin.
  3. Inheriting a method? A therapeutic reading of Wittgenstein.
  4. Wittgenstein, criteria and skepticism.
  5. Parallels and contrasts: Cavell's reading of Heidegger, Lévinas, Rawls, Derrida…
  6. Voices and styles: Cavell vs romanticism, pragmatism, ordinary language philosophy, deconstruction, post-modernism, etc.
  7. Cavell and psychoanalysis
  8. Cavell's theory of modernism in music, theater, and the visual arts.
  9. Cavell's Shakespeare between skepticism, tragedy and comedy.
  10. Cavell and film studies (ontology and realism, genre, ethics, television, close-analysis of individual films, etc.)
  11. Cavell and gender studies
  12. Philosophy and education.
  13. Ethics and politics (perfectionism, agreement, giving reasons, rules and foundations, etc.)
  14. "Analytic" and "continental": past, present, and future of a (supposed) divide.

Please send your proposals (max. 300 words) and a short bio (max. 150 words) to by May, 1 2021.

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